Not to air my first-world problems on you, but have you noticed vacations are stressful?
Instead of having a rejuvenating de-stressing vacation that sends you back to work well-rested, relaxed, and ready to take on the world, your magical vacation suddenly snowballs into an anxiety-ridden-horror-story.
Trafalgar, an international travel brand, conducted a study called The Good Life Study, reporting that eighty-nine percent of travelers say vacations are enjoyable but stressful.
A Mastercard article reaffirms Trafalgar’s study and further states that one of the four reasons below is likely the cause of vacation stress in people.
- Arriving and departing the airport
- Planning fun activities and unique experiences
- Deciding on a location
- Finding family-friendly accommodations
Minimizing stress on your next vacation isn’t hard; it’s about finding a different approach. Below are seven tips that you might find useful when planning your next de-stressing vacation.
1. Set Hard Boundaries to Unplug From Work
Letting go is a hard skill to master. I dare say one of the hardest lessons of being human. It sounds dramatic, but not if you think about the ever-growing self-help aisles or 10-day silent retreats most of us are afraid of attending. Can we fathom unplugging from life for that long?
I understand. It’s tempting to work on vacation. You think one email, here and there, won’t kill you. It won’t, but you’ve heard it before: stress is a silent killer that exacerbates other health problems.
Practicing in small but significant ways can help your overall well-being. Fully being present on your vacation can do wonders for your mood, creativity, and productivity when you get back to work.
2. Travel During Off-Peak Travel Seasons
Ever since I worked in hospitality, I’ve become a little cynical. Big party holidays are not my jam. The streets are chaotic, and restaurants are like a zoo. More often than not, I prefer to dine out during the week rather than on weekends.
The same rule can apply to traveling. It might suit you to plan an off-peak trip to avoid overcrowded cities. Or you can opt to travel on weekdays versus weekends, especially if you and your travel mates love to experience how the locals live.
Traveling off-season or on weekdays is easier said than done, considering some families have children and need to factor in their school schedules. But if your lifestyle is flexible at the moment, then why not capitalize?
3. Do Less to Get More
I’m sure you’ve been on a vacation where you overscheduled yourself. We’ve all been guilty of this.
It goes something like this. You have three days in a city, actually, two and a half days when you exclude travel time. You arrive, and it’s like the starter pistol from a horse race has fired, and off to the tracks you go. Shopping, lunch, park, museums, the beach, monuments, tourist attractions, dinner, and the list goes on.
It’s understandable. Naturally, you want to squeeze every last minute out of your trip. But that won’t leave you feeling relaxed. It will just induce stress. If you want a vacation that leaves you feeling refreshed, you have to do things differently.
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4. Travel Solo
Learning to eat alone was a massive milestone for me. It was a significant sign of independence if someone dares to eat alone. It seems so silly now that I used to feel awkward about this.
If eating alone is that horrifying, imagine what traveling alone brings up in people. Solo travel brings those creepy-crawler-scary-feelings out of the dark.
We think: I can’t do this on my own, especially a big overseas trip to a foreign country. I don’t know the language. What if I get lost? What if I’m not strong enough, brave enough, or smart enough? Is it safe?
It’s a natural part of life to fear the unknown, but doing a solo vacation is one-hundred percent liberating. You don’t need to negotiate with anyone about activities. It’s a great way to challenge yourself, increase your self-esteem, get to know yourself better, and gain independence.
5. Carve Out Time For Your Daily Routine
When traveling with friends or family, it’s easy to forget your daily routine and flow with the group’s demands. We’re human, and we’re hardwired to internalize the rules of a tribe. Whether we do it consciously or subconsciously, we are continually negotiating to get along and be a part of a group.
But we don’t have to forget who we are in this process. Find ways to carve out time for your self-care. Wake up an hour earlier to do your pranayama exercises, workout, meditate, or journal. Something that keeps you anchored in your self-care routine. You’ll also save yourself from falling off track with your daily habits when you return home.
6. Plan Your Budget
Managing your money is already a challenge but even more challenging on vacation. You can run into a whole host of mini-problems.
- You can overspend and then have to face your credit card bills when you get home.
- Too tight of a budget can leave you stressed.
- Couples fighting over their budget and ruin the mood.
- Groups having to compromise on activities and money can cause arguments.
When traveling in groups, make sure everyone is upfront about the budget and agrees. One simple tweak is to plan your budget first. Then let the destination meet the demands of your budget as opposed to the other way around.
Also, nowadays, there are apps like Splitwise, where you can keep track of all your expenses and split them at the end.
7. Plan a Day of Padding
Have you ever planned a vacation and forgot to give yourself a day of rest in between work and the end of the trip? I’m am soooooo guilty of this. The manic state always left me on a hamster wheel, feeling depleted by the end.
Ideally, plan a day or two in between returning home and going back to work. Obviously, for longer trips, give yourself bigger padding. The extra days off give you time to adjust to your normal routine and get the rest you deserve.
Planning a de-stressing vacation doesn’t have to be hard. It’s about finding a different approach. If you implement at least one of these tips: unplug from work, cut back on activities, travel solo, stay on track with your daily routine, add a day of padding, budget in advance, or travel during the slow season—you’ll take the stress out of your next vacation.